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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How to Tell If Your Teen Has a Drinking or Drug Problem - s post

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that underage drinking is a serious health concern. In statistics published by the NIAAA, 7.7 million youth, ages 12 to 20, admitted to drinking alcohol in 2015.

Overcoming addiction is a process, whether the addiction is to drugs, alcohol, or other substances. But the first line of defense comes from recognizing signs of addiction.

Here’s what to look for to determine if your teen has a drinking or drug problem.

1. Physical signs.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provides advice on physical signs that could be telling. The first step is to observe your teen's appearance. Does he or she have blood-shot eyes? Or are his or her pupils larger or smaller than usual? These are frequent markers of substance abuse and should be monitored if other red flags are raised.

Other physical signs to monitor include abnormal sleep patterns. For example, insomnia or sleeping throughout the day. One's appetite fluctuates as well when using drugs, so keep an eye out for sudden weight gain or weight loss.

If your teen develops a tremor, the shakes, strange speech patterns, or seems impaired, get help immediately.

2. Mood swings and abnormal behavior.

Mood swings are a common occurrence in teens. But if the mood swings become more pronounced and erratic, the fault could lie with substance abuse.

Watch for behavior that is outside of the norm. For example, if your teen has always been more outgoing, and she suddenly withdraws and isolates herself from her former circle of friends. This may be cause for concern. The opposite can also be true. For instance, if your teen has always been the shyer type, but suddenly seems to have new friends.

Teens who are using will try to hide this fact and will often ask for locks to be put on their door, or demand more privacy. Of course, children at this age are developing more independence, and part of this is the desire for privacy. But if your teen avoids eye contact, or appears secretive, this could be a sign of something more than teenage independence.

3. Behavior at school.

As parents of teens, a large part of a teenager's life is spent at school. So a parent must rely on the reports of teachers, whether their child skips classes, and the teen's grades. If you see a marked decline in grades or class attendance, these should raise immediate red flags in your mind and cause you to investigate further. Similarly, if your teen's teacher talks to you about your teen's behavior.

Other markers of possible drug use are when there is a change in who your teen hangs out with at school. If your teen's circle of friends changes suddenly, it would not hurt to inquire after the cause.

4. Stealing and lying.

Do you find yourself coming up short on cash, or are valuables going missing from your house? In order to support a drug or alcohol related problem, teens require money. If their access to money is limited, they may resort to stealing in order to get money to fund their drug or alcohol use. So if your teen has been caught stealing, there could be more going on under the surface.

Feel your teen has been lying to you more frequently than usual? There may be more going on that the teen wants to hide from you, outside of the average amount of teenage secrecy. Lying about where he or she was, or what he or she was doing also becomes a frequent occurrence when teens are on drugs or have an alcohol problem.

5. Unusual clothing choices and personal upkeep.

Has your teen has taken to wearing a lot of perfume or cologne? When previously he or she never did before? Or has she started to use air freshener in her room? Your teen might be trying to hide a binge drinking session. Has your teen always been fastidious with his or her clothing choices and suddenly cares little about how he or she looks? These signs could give you cause to take a closer look at your teen's emotional and mental state.

If you begin to suspect something is off with your child, dig deeper. A parent's job is not to be the most likable person in your teen's life. Rather, the responsibility of a parent is to teach their teen how to make good choices. And protect them from bad choices that could lead to devastating consequences. 


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